Glossary List‎ > ‎

State of nature

posted 11 Jan 2011, 17:49 by Jess Maher

State of nature is a term in political philosophy used in social contract theories to describe the hypothetical condition of humanity before thestate's foundation. In a broader sense, the state of nature is the condition before the rule of positive law comes into being, thus being a synonym of anarchy. The idea of the state of nature was a part of a classical republicanism theory as a hypothetical reason of entering a state of societyby establishing a government.

In some versions of social contract theory, there are no rights in the state of nature, only freedoms, and it is the contract that creates rights and obligations. In other versions the opposite occurs: the contract imposes restrictions upon individuals that curtail their natural rights.